Carol Plantamura, soprano; Frederic Rzewski, piano
Carol Plantamura and Frederic Rzewski met in 1965 when they were both at the Center for the Creative and Performing Arts at the State University of New York (SUNY), Buffalo. After beginning to work together in 1966, they collaborated in Rome as members of the improvising collective Musica Elettronica Viva, and from 1966 to 1970 they performed together throughout Italy, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Germany as a piano-vocal duo.
Jefferson was written for Carol Plantamura in 1970 as part of a series of pieces called “Monuments.” The text consists of the first paragraph and the first four sentences of the second paragraph of Thomas Jefferson’s eloquent Declaration of Independence, which was adopted by the Continental Congress, in Philadelphia, on July 4, 1776. In setting this text Rzewski made a political statement that was both particularly meaningful in the context of the turbulent late 1960s, and pertinent for all times. The premiere took place at the American Academy in Rome and roused a great deal of positive and passionate public sentiment. This recording was made in the studios of the Westdeutscher Rundfunk (WDR) in Cologne, Germany, in the fall of 1970 during a tour Rzewski and Plantamura were making in Germany. In both Jefferson and Antigone, Rzewski, striving for a more “natural” sound, asked Plantamura to sing with a diction that was more vernacular than what her training would normally lead her to.
In 1971 Rzewski returned to the United States, while Plantamura remained in Europe. They were reunited in Rome in 1976, and in 1983 they teamed up again to perform Antigone-Legend at the California Institute of the Arts. This performance created such a stir that Rzewski and Plantamura went on to perform the work many more times between 1983 and 1992 in the United States, Canada, Belgium, Switzerland, and Italy, often in conjunction with a puppeteer or a puppet troupe. Antigone was recorded in 1986 at the University of California, San Diego, where Plantamura has been a faculty member since 1978.
This title, originally issued on the CRI label, is now available as a burn-on-demand CD (CD-R) or download in MP3/320, FLAC or WAV formats. CD-Rs come in a protective sleeve; no print booklet or jewel case included. Liner notes are accessible via the link above.